Feather Your Nest

This beautiful wool applique was just posted on Facebook yesterday and I was taken aback at the wonderful interpretation. Toussein Martine used my Feather Your Nest pattern to create this custom piece as a wedding day gift and ‘remembrance’ for her son and new daughter-in-law. How lucky are they! I am always so pleased when someone has the confidence to use one of my patterns and ‘makes it their own’, especially as they pour their heart and skills into making it. Toussein chose to focus on the birds with just a few feathers and leaves – rearranging the birds to face each other (this reminded me of the wonderful ‘fraktur’ paintings done in early American art, but most certainly a carry over of ethnic designs brought over from ‘the old country’!). She used colors which likely were either favorites or meant to match a decor and she also carefully chose to simplify many of the patterns stitches, etc. All for such a wonderful keepsake.

Sometimes it takes a bit of ‘nerve’ to learn to trust your own choices, especially if you have been convinced that you have very little artistic talent. I recently had someone ask me about creativity and whether it could be taught. My answer – “When you were two or three years old and someone gave you crayons or other materials and asked you to make something, did you refuse, hang your head and say you weren’t creative? I doubt it – ask any little one. I firmly believe that loss of belief in our own joy of creativity really has more to do with when we learn that others may judge – and we are too young or simply not strong enough to resist that judgement and pursue what brings us joy in our hearts. The good news is that as we get older we can consciously choose to ‘dig deep’ and find that lost creativity, letting other’s judgements fall to the side. While we all have different skill sets that can always be learned and improved, all of us can foster our creativity in whatever venue we choose!

[Just an important side note here: please realize that the ‘making it your own’ I am addressing here is VERY different from copyright violation when a person copies a pattern – or a portion of – and passes it off as their own or creates it to make an income!]

Just love this take on my fairly new pattern ‘Feather Your Nest’. This was created by Margaret Munn and I saw it when she posted it in the Wool Applique group on Facebook. What a fun surprise. I so enjoy how she chose to simplify the pattern – eliminating many of the feathers as well as minimizing the use of beads, etc. And then she chose the bright yellow feather for the bird’s beak! It is well known among artists that simplicity (knowing when to quit!) is sometimes much harder to achieve than one would think. As I design my patterns I do realize that there are so many different choices that I can make in creating the design – ultimately there is no one way to present an idea. Margaret obviously had the confidence to let her own creativity ‘play’ and created this wonderful take on Feather Your Nest!

I think it is important that those of us who pursue creative activities always remember that we need to make our projects our own. I’m not talking about copyright violations, etc. but the personal choice to make a piece that is meaningful to oneself or (if a gift) to the recipient. As I have said before, as a former art teacher, nothing delighted me more than the student who would surprise me with a whole new take on an assignment, and with a bit of encouragement developed pride and confidence in recognizing their own creative soul. You do know that we all have one, don’t you????? Think you don’t? Just ask any young child to make or create something and they are unabashedly filled with an abundance of ideas!

May Basket by Nancy Batchelder

Lots of May Baskets by Nancy Batchelder!

Just had to share these absolutely delightful May baskets that were made by Nancy Batchelder – can you believe she made 25 to be exact?!?!?! That’s one productive lady. She said she is known for her May baskets. She used the Wall Pocket pattern as inspiration and found a way to make it all her own! She used wool felt blends and reduced the pattern on her printer so the template would fit the wool felt sheet sizes. She also used a Sizzix machine and die cuts to ‘dress up’ each basket, adding little sparkles and fun embellishments along the way. Wouldn’t you just die to find one of these hanging on your door on May Day??? Even the hanger is made with a strip of wool blend felt. Thanks to Nancy for being willing to share these here.

Anyone who knows me knows I am all about creativity and this is exactly what makes me a happy designer. The former art teacher in me is absolutely thrilled when I’ve been able to inspire someone to find their own creative gifts. So next time you are holding a pattern in your hand, don’t be afraid to ‘give it your own spin’! You might surprise yourself and make others smile as well.

Tulip Swirl as completed by Deane Evans Brothers, spring 2018

What a nice surprise to have this photo and comments sent in through my Facebook feed! Thank you Deane Evans Brothers! And such a wonderful job! I cannot tell you how much fun it is to see how my patterns are completed. I wish you could see the smile on my face as I love viewing all the creativity out there. Deane also left these nice comments:

“I have just put mine out, I was so tired of winter and snow stuff sitting around my house!! I loved every minute of making this. The kit was fabulous and even I could follow the directions with no problems.”

While this is wonderful feedback, it isn’t always the same for everyone. So I cannot stress enough how much I value your input, thoughts and constructive criticisms! And while it may seem to you that perhaps your particular observation/comment/input did not change anything for a particular pattern, please know that I have a huge place in my head where I ‘file’ all the comments, etc. and oftentimes those ideas will surface down the road. (I am a former teacher and I fully realize that not everyone ‘hears the same words in the same way’!!)

So please, if you are looking at this post, think about sending me a photo of your version of any of my patterns to share. I would love to see your work!!

Susan Nelson's 'Mandala Dreams' in avocado and black

Susan Nelson’s ‘Mandala Dreams’ in avocado and black

Close up of Susan Nelson's 'Mandala Dreams'

Close up of Susan Nelson’s ‘Mandala Dreams’

Who would have thought that when I designed and produced my pattern “Mandala Dreams’ that in less than 2 years it would become all the rage to see the proliferation of ‘adult’ coloring books, many of which feature the untold design possibilities of mandalas! I tend to think of mandalas in relationship to Bhuddist monks; if I am not mistaken, some years ago I believe it was the Minnesota Science Museum (History Museum?) that brought in some monks to create – and then destroy – a large sand mandala. Anyhow, one of my fellow quilters here in Prior Lake decided to try my Mandala Dreams pattern and make a gift for her mother. Many of you may know Susan Nelson as the creator of the Fun’N’Done Patterns; she is an accomplished quilter and a talented sewer. She chose a rich avocado green and black wool felt to work with. (Begging your pardon – for some reason I could not get the color very accurate in the photo – even with the help of photoshop!) Anyhow, she did a wonderful job and was going to do a second one! Thank you Susan for sharing this!

Wool 'mug rug' by Mary Ring, Prior Lake Quilter and DayStitcher

Wool ‘mug rug’ by Mary Ring, Prior Lake Quilter and DayStitcher

This amazing little wool ‘mug rug’ was created by Mary Ring, one of my fellow Prior Lake Quilters and Daystitchers (those are actually two separate groups – one a daytime group, while the other is a more formally organized evening group – but many belong to both). She surprised me by presenting it to me as a thank you for my presentation introducing wool work to the group! [I had made little kits (for creating a mug rug) and gave them out to the group so all would have a chance to try wool/wool felt without having to find and buy supplies.] Anyhow, I think there have been a few ‘converts’!! To say the least, Mary is quite the ‘craftswoman’ and her stitches and workmanship is beautiful. I only wish you could see her exquisite stitches in the photo. To say the least, this will not be holding any of my mugs – I’m looking for a frame to put it in, so I can hang it on the wall; I’ll always see the beautiful work, but even more, I will be reminded of the kindness and friendships I have found through quilting and handwork! Thank you Mary!

Snowflake #1 topper beautifully done in red!

Snowflake #1 topper beautifully done in red!

I recently received another order for some topper patterns from the Hickory Stick Quilt Shop in Hannibal, Missouri. Pat (the owner) and Marla (manager) have been very enthusiastic about adding wool felt and wool felt patterns to their store, which is located on Main St. I asked Marla to send me a picture or two of any completed DesignAndBeMary toppers for this gallery – and she sent me this wonderful picture of Snowflake #1 done in reds and whites. It is so nicely done. I like the look created by matching thread colors to the felt colors, letting the design and beading stand out. And those little snowflake ‘buttons’ seem to be made for the piece! Don’t forget to click on the photo for a larger view! Marla said that this was made by ‘one of the girls’ at the shop – Diana Jones. Thank you for sharing this! (By the way – stop by if you are in the area. Their recent order included my most recent new patterns and they carry the National NonWovens line of wool felt.) Please keep sending me your pictures of finished projects!

Jane Coultas from the Prior Lake Daystitchers group has completed two of my toppers; Winter Trees With Birds applique pattern and the Dragonfly applique pattern. For both of these she chose to personalize her toppers with her own colors. I love the warm golds she used in Winter Trees and the addition of lovely gold colored sequins around the outside edge. Be sure to click on the photos to see a larger image; the colors show up so much better. She also sent me a picture of her partially completed Pinecones applique pattern and I really like the stitching she did on the pinecone scales.

Winter Trees with Birds done with warm gold tones

Dragonflys in blue!

Pinecones – partially done

Welcome to the Gallery! I hope that as you complete my patterns, you might take the time to send a photo to me so I can share it with others. As a new designer, I am both anxious and excited to see what all of you do with my designs and patterns – new colors, new stitches or embellishments, etc. I think sharing creative efforts encourages and inspires others to ‘stretch their own wings!’ Photos don’t have to be ‘fancy’ ones – but a sharp, clear, well lit image would be the best – and it’s perfectly fine to show the piece as it is being used. Be sure to include your name – a location or quilting/sewing group name is optional – so I can give you a ‘shout-out’!